AidData’s China data wins 2023 Best Dataset Award from IPES

A team including AidData and William & Mary researchers will receive the award from the International Political Economy Society at this year's conference in October.

August 29, 2023
Alex Wooley
An abstract representation of data by issaranow via Adobe Stock, used under the Adobe Standard license.

Image by issaranow via Adobe Stock, used under the Adobe Standard license.

The International Political Economy Society (IPES) recently announced that its prestigious “Best New Dataset Award” has been given to a team of international researchers. Axel Dreher of Heidelberg University, Andreas Fuchs of Goettingen University, Brad Parks of AidData at William & Mary (W&M), Austin Strange of the University of Hong Kong, and Mike Tierney of W&M’s Global Research Institute are the authors of Banking on Beijing: The Aims and Impacts of China's Overseas Development Program, a book that introduced and analyzed the 1.0 version of AidData's Global Chinese Official Finance Dataset, which took home the IPES award.

The 3.0 version of AidData’s Global Chinese Development Finance dataset will be released late 2023. Sign up for our newsletter to be informed when the dataset is released.

The authors developed an innovative, open-source methodology—called Tracking Underreported Financial Flows (TUFF)—that generates detailed and comprehensive data about Chinese government-financed development projects for low-income and middle-income countries in all major world regions. It does so by codifying a systematic, transparent, and replicable set of procedures that standardize and synthesize large volumes of unstructured information from four main sources: (1) data and documentation from Chinese ministries, embassies, and economic and commercial counselor offices; (2) the aid and debt information management systems of finance and planning ministries in counterpart countries; (3) case study and field research undertaken by scholars and NGOs; and (4) English, Chinese and local-language news reports. 

The TUFF methodology resulted in the October 2017 publication of the 1.0 version of the dataset, which captured 4,373 projects supported by grants and loans from official sector institutions in China worth $354.4 billion. In September 2021, AidData and its research collaborators published a 2.0 version of the dataset that captured 13,427 Chinese grant-and loan-financed development projects worth $843 billion. The 3.0 version of the dataset is slated for release in late 2023.

IPES presents the Best New Dataset award once every three years. IPES is a global society of scholars of international political economy that provides an annual forum for members to present their best new work in progress to an informed and critical scholarly audience. Nominations are solicited through a survey of the full membership of the IPES, with winners chosen through a selection process by the Society's eight-member Executive Committee.

A key feature of the dataset is its comprehensive scope. It covers all regions, all sectors, and all sources and types of financial and in-kind transfers from government and state-owned institutions in China. Other datasets capture official financial transfers from China to a single sector or region, or only track certain types of financial flows and funding sources. However, AidData’s dataset is unique in that it captures any project that benefits from financial or in-kind support from any official sector institution in China.

To date, the dataset has been used in more than 500 research publications. It has also been used or referenced in more than 1,000 TV, radio, print, and online media stories.

The authors of the 2023 Best New Dataset will be presented their award at the Society’s annual conference, to be held in October at Georgetown University.

Alex Wooley is AidData's Director of Partnerships and Communications.